During my recent visit to Norfolk Island, I made clear my commitment to you for better communication and open dialogue about how the Federal Government works with the community.
With that in mind, it was great to hear about the positive discussions that took place this week with the Council of Elders (COE) and Norfolk Island People for Democracy (NIPD).
Discussions on the island between WCC and NIPD representatives and Administrator Eric Hutchinson and First Deputy Secretary of Territories Sarah Vandenbroek were very positive and respectful.
The topics covered were very varied. We all agree that more needs to be done to improve community engagement, increase local decision-making and cultural recognition.
This week’s discussions were part of what will be an ongoing and far-reaching community engagement. I know these issues affect and interest the whole community and I want to give everyone in Norfolk the opportunity to participate and share their views.
As I said last week, I want to work with the community to reinstate a preamble to Norfolk Island law that recognizes the relationship of the descendants of Pitcairn Island settlers to Norfolk Island, their traditions , their culture and their history.
I look forward to providing more information in the coming months on how you can express yourself and get your ideas across.
Let me be clear – I recognize that these conversations have been a long time coming. Additionally, we are looking at large and complicated issues, so there will be no quick fixes. But together we can find a better way forward.
I promise you that the government – through me, the administrator and my department – is committed to working with you, the community, to build trust and increase local empowerment and decision-making.